'Other Acts' Evidence: Recent Decisions by the Court of Appeals Undermine the Efficacy of Maryland Rule 5-404(B)
University of Baltimore Law Forum, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2000
30 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2008
Date Written: 2000
Four recent decisions by the Court of Appeals of Maryland have unduly burdened trial courts in their rulings regarding "other acts" evidence. Unnecessary reversals will result from Wynn's refusal to evaluate whether the trial court's decision was justified on a ground not stated explicitly at the trial level. The same is true of Streater's requirements that the trial judge, having ruled correctly on the stated objection, rule sua sponte under Rule 5-404(b) and then provide a detailed Faulkner analysis on the record. Klauenberg's misapplication of the Rule is sure to add to the confusion.
Contrary to the majority federal law, Sessoms leaves the courts unable to use Rule 5-404(b) in analyzing "other acts" evidence in criminal cases concerning acts of persons other than the accused. Far better to apply Rule 5-404(b), which provides a route for the admission of sufficiently probative "other acts" evidence, remove the Faulkner gloss requiring clear and convincing proof of those acts, and rely on the trial courts' application of Rule 5-403 to exclude insufficiently probative evidence, regardless which party offers it.
Keywords: evidence, Maryland, other acts, Sessoms, Streater, Faulkner, Klauenberg, Wynn
JEL Classification: K14, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation